'Diary of a scholarship winner, part 1' by Katy Muench

18th March 2017

This is the first of a three-part series by Katy Muench, one of the Glasgow 2017 scholarship winners. In this part, she introduces herself and tells you about the process of applying for and getting a scholarship. In part two, she will tell you about her expectations before this year’s conference, and in part three, she will reflect on her conference experience this year. Over to Katy…

Introducing myself

My first career path was journalism and in my early 20s, my goal was to become an international correspondent. My idols were Kate Adie and John Simpson. After graduating, I got a place on a training scheme with a local newspaper and also studied Arabic.

Clearly there was a different path written in my stars, as a few years after working as a news reporter, I was disillusioned. I had itchy feet and wanted to see the world, which is what led me to English teaching, like many others. It turned out to be the right decision as in the last 10 years, I’ve travelled all over the world and turned out to rather enjoy teaching. I’ve always liked the English language and my mother and sister are also English teachers, so perhaps there was no escaping my fate.

I’ve been based in Turkey for eight years, mainly teaching at the university level. It’s certainly an interesting country to work and live in.

I’m also in the process of becoming Delta qualified: Modules 1 and 2 are complete and hopefully, Module 3 will be done this year. This year, I started working as an academic consultant for a publishing company, which is a big change after being in the classroom. I travel around Istanbul and Turkey visiting schools and universities and doing training sessions, observations and book presentations.

Applying for Scholarships

Although I wasn’t born there, I grew up in Birmingham and consider it my home town. Therefore, when I saw that the 2016 IATEFL conference was going to be held there, I decided I had to attend.

When I found out about the possibility of scholarships, I applied for quite a few in a flurry of energy. Although I didn’t win one that year, I came to the conference as planned, where I learned a lot and met interesting people from all over the world who were enthusiastic about English teaching and professional development. I also made a point of attending one of the talks by a scholarship winner.

By the time the deadline for the 2017 scholarships rolled around, I was working in Hong Kong for the summer. Even though I didn’t think I would be successful, I spent a weekend escaping the sticky July heat with the air conditioning on full blast, and worked hard on a few applications. This time I narrowed my focus and just applied for a few scholarships that were the best fit for my background and experience.

Fast forward to late August. Summer school had finished and I was on a Thai island on my way back home. I was feeling a bit down – I wasn’t totally sure of the situation I was returning to in Turkey post-coup-attempt. I was hot, sticky and uninspired. Then I got a lovely email letting me know that I was the winner of the Gill Sturtridge first-time speaker award. Bad mood cured instantly – the timing was very fortunate!

Time since then has passed very quickly and now there’s just a few weeks to go until Glasgow. In Turkish there’s one word for both excited and nervous – heyacanli, and I have to say that word summarises how I’m feeling about the conference and my workshop at the moment.